The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Early voting for the May 12 general and special election for local city and school board races begins this week from April 30 to May 8.
Early voting polling locations in Port Arthur are: City Hall, Port Arthur Public Library and Sabine Pass School.
In Port Arthur, two city council seats are up for grabs including the District 5 seat where incumbent John Beard has termed out.
A proposition to determine whether the city’s Economic Development Corporation can spend money derived from sales tax allocations on parks projects is also on the ballot
District 5 City Council
Seeking the District 5 seat are two former Councilmen: Jack Chatman Jr. and Willie “Bae” Lewis.
Chatman, 49, was District 1 Councilman from 2007 to 2011. He lost his bid for re-election to Raymond Scott Jr.
During those years he worked with Port Arthur for Positive Action and Motiva to build the West Side Community Center; and with CIDA and Valero to build the health clinic on the West side.
Chatman said he was also instrumental in bringing the Environmental Justice Plan to fruition, an ongoing program in Port Arthur.
Presently, Chatman serves as co-chairman on the Downtown Renaissance Board.
Chatman is senior pastor of Sabbath Rest Nondenominational Ministry.
Former City Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis, Jr., believes his knowledge and experience is what Port Arthur needs to overcome some of the issues facing the city today.
Lewis, 68, served on City Council for 21 years and was the plaintiff in a lawsuit that changed the city’s voting system from at-large to single member districts.
Repairing Port Arthur streets is one of the city’s most pressing issues nowadays, and the need to hire a new city manager,, he said.
Lewis was defeated in a runoff election last year for the Council Position 7 seat.
He is employed as an analyzer technician at Port Arthur’s Valero plant.
District 6 City Council
For the District 6 seat, Robert E. “Bob” Williamson and Zulema Escobedo are running on the ballot.
Williamson, 61, the incumbent, is seeking his third term.
Implementing recommendations made in The Mercer Report, hiring a new city manager, developing new jobs and establishing a clear-cut vision for the re-development of downtown Port Arthur are among a long list of issues Williamson said the city needs to address.
Getting a new city manager on board to help implement recommendations made in The Mercer Report is tantamount to the city’s success, he said.
The incumbent candidate was first elected in 2006. During his tenure on City Council, the city has worked its way through the devastation of two hurricanes.
Williamson is retired from the Port Arthur Police Department.
Zulema Escobedo, 37, believes her experience as a small business owner is what Port Arthur needs to help bring new jobs to the city.
She and her husband, Sergio, are owners of Escobedo Insurance Agency through Farmers, and Edible Arrangements in Beaumont.
Five years ago she ran unsuccessfully for city mayor, and believes now is the time to do what she can to help the city she loves.
With unemployment near 17 percent, it is imperative the city bring new jobs to town that hire Port Arthur residents.
She believes the city should invest money into its streets, parks projects and Pleasure Island. Doing so would spur the fishing industry, and in turn bring tax dollars to the city.
Nederland ISD has approved four propositions for bond to renovate or build new schools in the district. Early voting and election day voting will take place at Central Middle School, located at 200 17th Street in Nederland.
Proposition 1 is a $7.3 million energy efficiency and security bond, to replace all lighting and install new security doors, windows and alarms in all schools.
Proposition 2 is a $21.27 million to replace heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC systems districtwide and remodel social studies, science and home economics department at the high school to meet state and federal requirements for students with disabilities.
Proposition 3 is a $16.5 million for construction of a new Hillcrest Elementary School.
Proposition 4 is a $32.8 million for construction of a new C.O. Wilson Middle School.
In addition to the bonds, five candidates are vying for three seats in an at-large election to the Nederland school board.
Everett Sanderson has been on the board longer than any of the seven other members.
He believes the biggest challenge has been saving money without losing quality of education.
For Sanderson, not being able to help out the teachers and employes as much as he has wanted to has been discouraging and something he wants to readdress if reelected.
Gavin Bruney was elected for his first term in 2009. Bruney chaired the Capital Improvement Committee, a comittee which studied for two years what can be done to better the quality of life at NISD schools.
His hard work created the foundations of the facility improvement projects in Propositions 1 and 2 of the May bond election.
Reed Richard, current maintenance director for Port Arthur ISD schools, has been responsible for winding down two bond projects, one in 2004 for $110 million and another in 2008 for $189 million, that have either newly built or renovated all of the 15 PAISD campuses.
Under his campaign slogan, “Fit for purpose,” Richard believes his experience working with project managers and craftsman has given him the knowledge necessary to, “Get the best bang for the buck,” as NISD passes into this possible phase of school renovation.
Bruce Powell wants to devote himself to the Nederland ISD school district by serving on its board in these difficult times in the national economy.
An academic degree in math and certified math teacher, Powell’s professional background is in business management, which he believes gives him the perfect mix for a school board trustee.
Jesse Branick was appointed, by the city councils of four differnt cites for positions including Nederland City Attorney since 2009 and municipal court prosecutor for Nederland, Port Arthur, Port Neches and Groves — a testament to the local support of his work.
An analytical mind Branick is aware of the fact that NISD is the biggest employer in the city of Nederland, and being vice president of the NISD school board is not a job he takes lightly.
Port Neches-Grovces ISD
Port Neches-Groves ISD has two contested races in the May school board election. Early voting will take place at the PN-GISD administration building, located at 620 Avenue C in Port Neches, and at the West Groves Education Center, located at 5840 West Jefferson Street in Groves.
Jim Walters, an incumbent, feels he has more to give back to his community.
Walters in running for reelection to his seat, place 1, against challenger Billy Waller.
Walters takes pride in the wisdom of the board for hiring Rodney Caveness as superintendent and celebrates what he calls PN-GISD healthy general fund and a healthy growth in enrollment.
Billy Waller, a small business owner is running as a fiscal and social conservative.
The challenger will be running for place 1 against Jim Walters.
Waller said if he were elected he would not want to see any tax increase.
Carol Broussard has been a resident of Port Neches for the past 45 years and worked at Port Neches-Groves High School for most of her 27 year career with the district.
She has served on the PN-GISD school board for the past five years and is running for place 3 against Eric Sullivan.
Broussard is proud of the work she has done on the board and believes that, if she is re-elected, she will further the success of the district.
Eric Sullivan believes he can help raise revenue by bringing people to cities of Port Neches and Groves through his experience in advertising.
As any good advertiser, Sullivan says, he believes in the product. Born and raised in Nederland, Sullivan moved to Port Neches to start a family with his wife, Echo Sullivan, in 1994 in part because he believes in PN-GISD schools.
Sabine Pass Port Authority
Three candidates have filed for the two at-large port commissioners seats on the Sabine Pass Port Authority.
They include: Incumbents, Carl Snider and Robert Sexton and challenger Ricky Keltz.
Both of the seats are for two-year periods.